Nominees persist for NASCAR Hall of Fame
April 09, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
They have been a part of 23 championships and more than 450 victories as either a driver or team owner in NASCAR’s premier series.
Their names have been among the 25 candidates for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame since the very beginning.
Nine men. A lot of hard work and a lot of hardware.
Each name, however, has yet to be called when the list of five has been announced for induction into the NASCAR shrine.
This year’s list of nominees will be announced Wednesday (SPEED, 6 p.m.). While there are no guarantees their names will appear once more, it’s likely that these nine will be among those announced, put forth once again for consideration:
"There’s Fireball (Roberts) and (Joe) Weatherly and Tim Flock, Red Byron and Raymond Parks. … That’s five really, really old-timers."
-- Glen Wood, 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee
• Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick continue to push forward in the sport, successful team owners that field competitive teams and contend for championships.
• Atlanta businessman Raymond Parks, credited with helping fund the fledgling NASCAR series in its infancy, was the sport’s first “Strictly Stock” championship-winning car owner.
• Red Byron suffered a serious leg injury when the plane he was aboard was hit during World War II. Already a standout racer before the war, Byron returned, recovered and won the series’ first driving title while competing for Parks.
• Tim Flock and Joe Weatherly are the only two eligible candidates with multiple championships not currently in the Hall of Fame. Flock won titles in 1952 and ’55; Weatherly in ’62-63. Each driver won more than two dozen races.
• Driver Benny Parsons won the 1973 Cup championship and finished his career with 21 victories, including the 1975 Daytona 500. After retiring as a driver, Parsons became a well-known figure in the broadcast booth.
• Glen “Fireball” Roberts and Curtis Turner were two of the sport’s early stars. Turner scored 17 career victories, dominating races on both dirt and asphalt, and counts the 1956 Southern 500 at Darlington among his wins. He was also instrumental in the building of Charlotte Motor Speedway. Roberts tasted victory 33 times. He won at Darlington, captured the 1962 Daytona 500 and finished fifth or higher in points on three occasions.
Glen Wood, founder of Wood Brothers Racing and a member of the 2012 Hall of Fame class, was drawn to racing by the likes of Turner.
“Anybody that ever saw him racing on the beach (at Daytona), and saw him coming down into the North Turn sideways for what seemed like a quarter of a mile down the track,” Wood said, “it was just like a wave coming in.
“He was just as good as they come. I never saw anybody do that as well as him on the sand and I saw a lot of races there.”
Wood says there are a lot of “old-timers” on the list and deserving of recognition. Whether they will eventually go in -- or when they might -- is difficult to determine, he said.
“There’s Fireball and Weatherly and Tim Flock, Red Byron and Raymond Parks. … That’s five really, really old-timers. All five of them should get in. But they may or may not.”
Wood said he was content just to be counted among those worthy of consideration. To actually be inducted wasn’t something he had considered.
“I told somebody when they first came out with the first 25 (nominees) and I was one of them, that I was happy if I never got inducted,” he said. “That was a great honor to be nominated, especially in the first bunch. I would have been satisfied with it.”
Richard Petty, NASCAR’s leading winner and one of only two drivers to capture seven championships as a driver, said he thinks it is important that those who helped build the sport aren’t forgotten.
Accomplishments on the track are crucial, he said, citing championships and particular victories as sufficient credentials for consideration, if not induction.
“Like Daytona, for instance,” Petty said. “Even if someone gets lucky there, it doesn’t make any difference. It’s such a big event.
“Winning a championship is a big deal. You beat everybody. No matter what the circumstances were.
“Guys like Weatherly and Tim Flock, they accomplished a lot in their time. At the same time, you had guys like Parks who was instrumental … I don’t know how you mix that up.”
The names of the five inductees for the Class of 2014 will be announced May 22.
Until then, it’s likely that those nine from the original roster will be left to wonder once again if this is the year their names will be called.
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